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Ragini Khanna: Fear is the key

The actress explains how she prepped to play sociopath who kills kids in 'Posham Pa'

  • Published 18.09.19, 1:48 PM
  • Updated 18.09.19, 1:48 PM
  • 3 mins read
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Ragini Khanna (Wikipedia)

Zee5’s psychological thriller film Posham Pa, starring actress Mahie Gill, Sayani Gupta and Ragini Khanna, is inspired by true events of a psychologically disturbed mother who coerces her daughters into a life of crime.

Directed by National Award-winning filmmaker Suman Mukhopadhyay, the film released on the platform last month. The Telegraph caught up with Ragini, who plays Shikha, one of the two sisters, for a chat.

Was it emotionally taxing playing the character of a sociopath in Posham Pa?

Ragini: Yes, extremely difficult... since I have no point of connect or reference. She was trained by the mother since childhood... her conditioning was that of a sociopath, she was raised to become that. It was excruciatingly painful to let go of my guard, to let go of the walls I had built over the years. To play someone who’s so fierce and someone who doesn’t have a sense of right or wrong, for her might is right and morals be damned. There’s no law in her head, she has not been raised on your normal educational value system. I had to come undone, as you age your emotional structure becomes very strong and rigid. It’s difficult to let go of all that you have accumulated over the years. It was difficult but thanks to the co-operation of my director and my writer (Nimisha Mishra), I sailed through.

How is Suman Mukhopadhyay as a director?

He is extremely clear in his vision and has been very patient with all the questions I asked him (smiles). He is extremely pleasant.

What brief did he give you for the character?

While fleshing out the character, he wanted me to remember the intent of the murders. He wanted me to keep Shikha on a higher pedestal in her own head, like have sort of an intellectual superiority, as if she freed those kids from a miserable life. As an actor when I was trying to put flesh and bones to this character, I was trying to understand her motivation to murder little children. Like, in Shikha’s head, she’s thinking that she’s releasing these children from the dirty life that they’re living as street children.

Is the film based on convicted child murderers Seema Gavit and Renuka Shinde of the ’90s?

This film is not based on them but yes, it’s inspired by true events. I’m aware of these particular events that happened in the ’90s, that post-Independence they were the first sisters to have got the death penalty. But this is not a biopic. The research was done by a senior journalist, Praful Shah, and I have interacted with him. I even asked him to help with some of his notes post the release of the film. If it were a biopic, we would have completely represented this family. But based on Praful Shah’s research, certain truths were borrowed, imagination was put to use and a script was drafted. The script is in no way promoting the two sisters or their mother.

Did you get chills while shooting certain scenes ?

I did break down while filming but what is worth mentioning is the way everyone hugged me and gave me love post every shot. I am proud to have worked with a team which is so humane.

This genre is so violent. What were the interactions that you had with your co-stars Mahie and Sayani?

I think both of them had done some really heavy-duty stuff in the past, so they were quite comfortable with it. I, on the other hand, was a little emotionally shattered. I kind of broke down because I couldn’t believe how someone can go to such extremes in life. It’s not like I was deluded because I have read criminal psychology all my life and seen a lot of crime thrillers. But when you have to become this person and live this life for a certain period of time, it’s an excruciatingly emotional process. We didn’t get time to do workshops, but off the shots, the three of us had a certain kind of bonding... like what kind of food to eat or what kind of journeys we have had. Nobody was trying to eat into each other’s space while shooting. When actors try to overlap or overshadow, that looks very insecure on camera... but in terms of screen-time everyone was very secure because the director was in complete command.

What kind of response are you getting for Posham Pa so far ?

It’s been very motivating.

What’s your favourite psychological thriller film?

Christopher Nolan’s Memento (2000).